Tag Archives: climategate

Heartland’s climategate – and Mann’s book

The blogosphere has been humming over the last few days with revelations contained in document leaked from the US Heartland Institute. Documents outlining strategy for the promotion of climate denial – both through the media and through educations programmes.

Have a look at Gareth Renowden’s post The real Climategate: Heartland’s hypocrisy on display for a good summary and many links to other coverage and the documents themselves.

For me – there are no surprises in these leaked documents. I have just finished reading Michael Mann’s – The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines so was familiar with all the dirty tricks, misrepresentation, political manoeuvering and the roll of the fossil fuel industry in financing the climate denial movement.

No surprises – but some of the details in the leaked documents were interesting. The fact that heartland actually has some of the well-known climate science critics on their payroll. That they are helping to fund some of the deniers blogs. and publications. And that they a consciously investing in a campaign to “teach the controversy” – that is discredit climate science – in the schools.

Have a look at The real Climategate: Heartland’s hypocrisy on display for the details.

Clearly these revelations are only the tip of the iceberg. Much more is going on behind the scenes. And Michael Mann’s new book gives an excellent coverage of these denier campaigns.

He’s been in the tick of it. He is still being victimized with McCarthyist attacks. The book outlines the political side of the attacks on climate science. But it also delves into some of the relevant science – especially around the so-called “Hockey Stick.”

Mann is an excellent writer and anyone interest in this area, especially if they have followed some of the political aspects, will enjoy the book. It is really an actually a page turner.

And it is positive.

I will review it properly in the next few weeks.

Climategate 2.0 and “toecurling” journalism

It’s the silly season again. Another climate change conference (Durban) – another climategate hoax. This cartoon from crikey (Bitter Climate Science Tryst Shock Scandal Rift Emails Exposed) sums it up.

Credit: Firstdog at crikey

Thanks to: Bitter Climate Science Tryst Shock Scandal Rift Emails Exposed.

“Festering syphilitic repellance!”

And this from one of the most extreme climate change deniers, Telegraph journalist James Delingpole in Climategate 2.0: the most damning email of them all. It’s attacking an email with a Christmas song celebrating the IPCC Nobel prize. We will leave such enthusiastic but naive song writing aside. But it certainly puts Delingpole’s nose out of joint. It’s a bit over the top to describe such attempts at composition as “toecurlingly, . . vile,  reprehensible, stomach-churningly dreadful, . . .festering syphilitic repellance. .” isn’t it!

“The worst, most toecurlingly awful, damning, vile, reprehensible, stomach-churningly dreadful email – the one that shows the Warmist junk-scientists in a light of such festering syphilitic repellance they can never possibly recover is this, the Christmas ditty specially written by Kevin Trenberth in celebration of the Nobel committee’s comedic decision to award the Peace Prize to Al Gore and the IPCC.”

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That hacking scandal

The current phone hacking scandal in the UK brings back some memories. It’s taken several years for those hacking crimes to reach public consciousness and create a storm of disgust. I wonder how long it will be before we get to find out who was behind the “climategate” hacking scandal? It was obviously well organised and had  a big political effect, despite the tameness of the emails released.

But I bet the true story behind that hacking will be interesting.

Thanks to Treehugger for the timely reminder (see Cold Case: Who Hacked Climatic Research Unit Emails Back In 2009?)

I also have to thank treehugger for bringing this handy infographic to my attention. It’s from ReuseThisBag.com and compares the scientific consensus and the sceptics arguments over global warming. Click on the image for a larger version.

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The myth of the noble scientist

David Goodstein used this term to describe:

the long-discredited Baconian view of the scientist as disinterested seeker of truth who gathers facts with mind cleansed of prejudices and preconceptions. The ideal scientist, in this view, would be more honest than ordinary mortals, certainly immune to such common human failings as pride or personal ambition. When people find out, as they invariably do, that scientists are not at all like that, they may react with understandable anger or disappointment.

I think it is a useful term. But I don’t agree with Goodstein’s belief that scientists are guilty of promoting it. Certainly not in my experience.

Before Fermi Lab visit

I think of a scientist as very dedicated to his work. He is kind of crazy, talking always quickly. He constantly is getting new ideas. He is always asking questions and can be annoying. He listens to others’ ideas and questions them.

After Fermi Lab visit

I know scientists are just normal people with a not so normal job. . . . Scientists lead a normal life outside of being a scientist. They are interested in dancing, pottery, jogging and even racquetball. Being a scientist is just another job which can be much more exciting.

These are drawings and comments made by Amy, one of a group of US 7th Graders before and after their visit to the Fermi lab

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The changing face of science communication

All the reports from the inquiries into the climategate issue are worth reading. It is the nature of thoughtful inquiries that not only are problems identified, claims checked and unjustified accusations refuted. There are also usually some suggestions for improvements.

I think the attention that has been paid to issues like peer review, importance of statistical analysis, making public data available and the handling of freedom of information requests has been worthwhile. Hopefully scientific  institutes, professional bodies and scientific journals will pay attention.

The Independent Climate Change email Review which reported last week  made interesting comments on the communication of science and the role of scientists in this. Mike at Watching the Deniers has written a thoughtful article on lessons we can draw from this report on this and other matters. It’s well worth a read – I recommend it (see The chief lesson of Climategate: the depths of our naivety).

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“Climategate” smears found false – Mann cleared

The final investigation of Dr Michael Mann by the Pennsylvania State Unviersity has now reported. It has unanimously found that “after careful review of all available evidence, there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University.” (You can download the full report here – Final_Investigation_Report).

No surprise to anyone who has followed this whole “climategate” beat up with an objective eye. In this video interview from Climate Science Watch Mann gives his reactions and thoughts on the “climategate” campaign (from Interview with Michael Mann on the Penn State Final Report and the war on climate scientists).

Interview with Michael Mann on the Penn State Final Report and the war on climate scientists.

Its worth quoting from dean of the Graduate school, Henry C. Folley’s, letter reporting the findings: Continue reading

Climate scientist sues newspaper for false reporting

Here is a press release I picked up last night:

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – April 21, 2010) – University of Victoria Professor Andrew Weaver, the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis, launched a lawsuit today in BC Supreme Court against three writers at The National Post (and the newspaper as a whole), over a series of unjustified libels based on grossly irresponsible falsehoods that have gone viral on the Internet.

In a statement released at the same time the suit was filed, Dr. Weaver said, I asked The National Post to do the right thing – to retract a number of recent articles that attributed to me statements I never made, accused me of things I never did, and attacked me for views I never held. To my absolute astonishment, the newspaper refused.”

Dr. Weaver’s statement of claim not only asks for a Court injunction requiring The National Post to remove all of the false allegations from its Internet websites, but also seeks an unprecedented Court order requiring the newspaper to assist Dr. Weaver in removing the defamatory National Post articles from the many other Internet sites where they have been re-posted.

“If I sit back and do nothing to clear my name, these libels will stay on the Internet forever. They’ll poison the factual record, misleading people who are looking for reliable scientific information about global warming,” said Weaver.

The suit names Financial Post Editor Terence Corcoran, columnist Peter Foster, reporter Kevin Libin and National Post publisher Gordon Fisher, as well as several still-unidentified editors and copy editors. It seeks general, aggravated damages, special and exemplary damages and legal costs in relation to articles by Foster on December 9, 2009 (“Weaver’s Web”), Corcoran on December 10, 2009 (“Weaver’s Web II”) and January 27, 2010 (“Climate Agency going up in flames”), and Libin on February 2, 2010 (“So much for pure science”).

The Statement of Claim was filed April 20, 2010 at the BC Supreme Court Registry at the Vancouver Courthouse: Weaver v Corcoran and others, SCBC No.102698, Vancouver Registry.

via Climate Scientist Sues National Post for Libel.

The 48 page statment of claim is available to download (Weaver vs Corcoran.pdf).

Do I detect a trend? Could Ian Wishart and Richard Treadgold be legally forced to track down and remove defamatory reports internationally arising our of Treadgold’s discredited “paper” Are we getting warm yet? (see New Zealand’s denier-gate)?

See also:
News from the front: scientists directly challenge claims of fraud through defamation/libel laws
Climate change deniers wallets threatened


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Officially a fake scandal from science perspective

Well, the latest report from inquiries into the “climategate” affair confirm that the scientific conclusions of climate scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), University of East Anglia stand on “solid ground.”

The report is clear – relatively short and well worth reading. (Download Report of the International Panel set up by the University of East Anglia to
examine the research of the Climatic Research Unit
Here are the conclusions:

  1. ” We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it. Rather we found a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganised researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention. As with many small research groups their internal procedures were rather informal.
  2. We cannot help remarking that it is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians. Indeed there would be mutual benefit if there were closer collaboration and interaction between CRU and a much wider scientific group outside the relatively small international circle of temperature specialists.
  3. It was not the immediate concern of the Panel, but we observed that there were important and unresolved questions that related to the availability of environmental data sets. It was pointed out that since UK government adopted a policy that resulted in charging for access to data sets collected by government agencies, other countries have followed suit impeding the flow of processed and raw data to and between researchers. This is  unfortunate and seems inconsistent with policies of open access to data promoted elsewhere in government.
  4. A host of important unresolved questions also arises from the application of Freedom of Information legislation in an academic context. We agree with the CRU view that the authority for releasing unpublished raw data to third parties should stay with those who collected it.”

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Climate scientist Phil Jones exonerated

The UK Parliament Science and Technology Committee has released its report into “climategate” – some of the issues surrounding the release of stolen emails from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit.

It effectively exonerates Phil Jones from  charges of withholding data and questionable scientific ethics.

The text of the press release is below and the committee’s report [PDF] provides detailed responses on each of the issues raised in its investigation.


The Science and Technology Committee today publishes its report on the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. The Committee calls for the climate science community to become more transparent by publishing raw data and detailed methodologies.

Phil Willis MP, Committee Chair, said:

“Climate science is a matter of global importance. On the basis of the science, governments across the world will be spending trillions of pounds on climate change mitigation. The quality of the science therefore has to be irreproachable. What this inquiry revealed was that climate scientists need to take steps to make available all the data that support their work and full methodological workings, including their computer codes. Had both been available, many of the problems at CRU could have been avoided.”

The focus on Professor Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones’s refusal to share raw data and computer codes, the Committee considers that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community but that those practices need to change.

On the much cited phrases in the leaked e-mails—”trick” and “hiding the decline”—the Committee considers that they were colloquial terms used in private e-mails and the balance of evidence is that they were not part of a systematic attempt to mislead.

Insofar as the Committee was able to consider accusations of dishonesty against CRU, the Committee considers that there is no case to answer.

The Committee found no reason in this inquiry to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”. But this was not an inquiry into the science produced by CRU and it will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel, announced by the University on 22 March, to determine whether the work of CRU has been soundly built.

On the mishandling of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, the Committee considers that much of the responsibility should lie with the University, not CRU. The leaked e-mails appear to show a culture of non-disclosure at CRU and instances where information may have been deleted to avoid disclosure, particularly to climate change sceptics. The failure of the University to grasp fully the potential damage this could do and did was regrettable. The University needs to re-assess how it can support academics whose expertise in FoI requests is limited.

via UK Parliament – S&T PN32/100331.

Download the full report: “The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.”

YouTube – ‘Climategate’ row scientist cleared of wrongdoing.


See also:
The rickety bandwagon of climate change denial
Climategate inquiry: no proof of fraud, better disclosure called for

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The rickety bandwagon of climate change denial

OK, this cartoon is lampooning extremest attitudes within the US Republican Party. But I think it is also very relevant to this whole “climategate” hysteria.

Relevant because some of the most extreme pronouncements from climate change deniers do smack of McCarthyism. To be honest they also remind me of the campaigns against scientists and intellectuals launched by Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot.

Have a brief look at some of the pronouncement in denier blogs and twitter tweets. The description of climate change science as a conspiracy. The accusations that honest scientists have lied, hidden and distorted data and interfered with scientific publication processes. And all on an international scale. The huge and authoritative IPCC reviews are being discarded unread as rubbish and lies.

The accusations that these honest scientists are criminals, that they should be prosecuted. Some of these bloggers and tweeters want immediate  punishment – they can’t wait for a trial, let alone an investigation.

And as for the official investigation of charges of violation of freedom of information laws, let alone scientific ethics, these critics scream “whitewash” beforehand. Justice and truth is the last thing they want.

Persecuting climate scientists

The label “McCarthyism” is so obvious, down to McCarthy’s tactics of persecution of victims and hearings. US Senator James Inhofe is actually demanding criminal investigation of climate scientists. He has even named 17 US and UK climate scientists he wants to prosecute.

Michael Mann, one of the US climate scientists Inhofe wishes to imprison or otherwise punish, has warned about the climate denier hysteria:

“I think the following quote characterises the situation best: ‘Continuous research by our best scientists … may be made impossible by the creation of an atmosphere in which no man feels safe against the public airing of unfounded rumours, gossip, and vilification.’ The quote wasn’t made during the last few months. It was made by US president Harry S Truman in 1948, in response to politically motivated attacks against scientists associated with the dark era of McCarthyism.”

Mann added:

“I fear that is precisely the sort of atmosphere that is being created, and sure, it impacts research. The more time scientists have to spend fending off these sorts of attacks and dealing with this sort of nonsense, the less time is available to them to actually do science, and to push the forefront of our knowledge forward. Perhaps that is the intent?”

He is right to warn us about the nature of the current anti-science hysteria.

But I think the cartoon also conveys an important point. These days McCarthyism (and Stalinism, Maoism and Pol Potism) is a sign of weakness. It is an extremely weak and rickety bandwagon to jump on to. These extremists sail so close to the wind that they will inevitably be exposed. Their whole edifice will collapse.

I suspect this collapse will become more and more obvious as we get the results from the current investigations into the “climategate” issue. It is likely that any real unethical or illegal activity found will be no greater than interference with freedom of information requests. And these may relate only to emails rather than data. After the dust is settle, after any real inappropriate behaviour has been dealt with, many people are going to look ridiculous.

Demand transparency from deniers

I only hope that we can spend some time investigating these people. What has been their attitude towards revealing their own sources of funding and treatment of data? How have they responding to information requests? How have they behaved ethically toward reporting scientific facts, let alone reporting the behavior of honest scientists?

Some of these people are journalists. Others bloggers. The there are the denier organisations and their websites. Should we place any trust in such people in the future?


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